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Ramakanta Biswas

As many as 405 positions of Judges are lying vacant against the sanctioned strength of 1104 in 25 High Courts across the country, Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

“As on March 16, 2022, against the sanctioned strength of 1104 Judges in the various High Courts, 699 Judges are in position, leaving 405 vacancies of Judges to be filled,” Rijiju said. 

As per the statement released by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Allahabad High Court has the maximum vacancy of judges in the country. While the total sanctioned strength of judges in the HC is 160, the positions of 67 judges are yet to be filled up. 

The second highest number of vacancies exists in Mumbai and Punjab& Haryana High Courts. While Bombay HC has a sanctioned strength of 94 judges, 36 posts are lying vacant. Similarly, 36 out of the total sanctioned posts of 85 judges are vacant in Punjab& Haryana HC.

In Odisha, the sanctioned strength of judges is 33, including 24 permanent and nine additional in Orissa HC. However, the working strength of judges is 21 while 12 positions are lying vacant. 

“Filling up of vacancies in the High Courts is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process between the Executive and the Judiciary. It requires consultation and approval from various Constitutional authorities both at the State and Centre level,” Rijiju said.

“While every effort is made to fill up the existing vacancies expeditiously, vacancies of Judges in High Courts do keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of Judges and also due to increase in the strength of Judges,” he added. 

The Union Minister said as per the existing Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of Judges of High Courts, the Chief Justice of the High Court is required to initiate the proposal for filling up of vacancies of a Judge in a High Court six months prior to the occurrence of vacancies. 

“Government appoints only those persons as Judges of High Courts who are recommended by Supreme Court Collegium (SCC),” he added.   

The Minister further said against the vacancy of 405 Judges, at present, 175 proposals are at various stages of processing between the Government and the Supreme Court Collegium. 

“Further recommendations from High Court Collegiums are yet to be received in respect of 230 vacancies in High Courts,” Rijiju said.

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